3.31.2005

Whoa

So Rob McMillin, who runs 6-4-2, one of my favorite baseball blogs, also has a whole nother blog, Peak Oil Optimist, for the alternative-energy enthusiast! Both are worth reading, make sure you don't confuse them.

And I thought I was busy with my other nom de blog, Yglesias.

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (13)

Slate joins in the bullshit watch:

"The governor may also be making himself vulnerable by breaking his campaign promise to exclude special interests from Sacramento. By hitting the fund-raising trail hard, he is asking for help from many of the people he promised to cut out, namely big corporate donors.

But none of that may matter if Schwarzenegger's showmanship and palpable political skills continue to deflect substantive criticism."


If one has the premonition, however, that mere bullshit will not save us soon, it may matter.

3.30.2005

The place to be

From alicublog:

"As I previously observed, Green Acres was genuine American surrealism: Oliver always refusing to accept the rubes' logic, and the rubes' logic always triumphing over -- well, logic. A pig, with the homely name Arnold Ziffel, is treated as if his gruntings were conversation -- and even prophecies. I remember with astonishment Eb dejectedly reporting that Arnold has predicted snow in July (an admission which, as Arnold only ever goes 'oink oink,' Eb could have easily evaded) -- and Eb's subsequent joy when it does snow in July, proving the pig right after all! This is the intersection of vaudeville and existentialism that interested Beckett, and you don't have to be an intellectual to enjoy it -- fun for the whole family, as they say. I nod in gratitude to the great man's shade."

I was just talking today with some writers about the greatness of Green Acres. I mentioned that I once heard someone compare it to Ionesco. A writer -- who knows far more about Ionesco than I would -- replied, "Absolutely!"

They literally don't make them like that anymore. One reason is that the executives care too much about the projects these days -- so they have to understand them. Another is that actors are too smart now to sign on to something that dumb, even if it makes their career. Another is that Green Acres already exists and we can all see it -- so it'd have to be re-invented, not the easiest thing to do with something so dumb.

3.28.2005

Finally

Brad DeLong)writes:
"But if Blahous is being held up a the gold standard of substantive knowledge on Social Security... we're in a lot worse shape than Matthew Yglesias imagines."

I have been saying for decades that we're in a lot worse shape than Matthew Yglesias imagines.

3.22.2005

Out of the mouths of moms

While I was waiting to pick my kid up from one of his Operation Well-Rounded activities, I overheard this take on l'affaire Schiavo, which is transcribed more or less verbatim:

"My reading is that they're classic parents of someone with an eating disorder. Just like they refused to see that she has an eating disorder, they refuse to see things they way they are now."

I have no idea whether this is even a plausible take. But it sounds plausible. And it was nice to talk about other interfering parents while we were making our own kids do something that, they were told, would lead to happiness.

Bobby Short

I liked this story from Alterman:

Scene on a Manhattan street, about twenty years ago, waiting for a "walk" signal:

Me (fishing): "Hey Mr. Short, I've always wanted to see you at the Carlyle but I can't afford the prices."

Bobby Short, (smiling): "Well buddy, you could always marry a rich girl."


The old world of men with great diction is passing.

I never saw him because I never thought I could afford it, even though, like Teachout, I had listened to him as a teen (a Rodgers and Hart album my parents didn't like). Ditto Sarah Vaughn -- it was like a $50 cover at the Blue Note. Too rich for my blood.

Now, of course, I can't remember the food I ate with that money.

3.19.2005

Waxman

A few years ago, when Henry Waxman was going after cigarette makers, I said to a nicotine-stained friend of mine, "You should run against Waxman in a primary. You're just as liberal as he is, plus you'd get tobacco money." He declined to spend more time with blackjack in Vegas, but I see that the congressman is still sanctimonious as ever, what with his bright idea for the steroid hearings -- exactly the type of nanny-state stuff I think we should be ignoring in favor of pocketbook stuff.

3.18.2005

Why I No Longer Feel Bad For Not Having Finished "Kavalier & Clay"

This sentence is manifestly not true:

"We have no style, you and I; only people who don't give a damn have style."

Immediately I thought of Fred Astaire (because I'm old); this would refute it too. And the "you and I"! The more I think about it the more that sentence sounds like liner notes to a Sinatra album.

Let's join another sentence of Chabon's in progress:
"...and furthermore (goes the rap) there is nothing remotely admirable about Canseco's allegation of widespread, inveterate use of steroids, by himself and by other ballplayers, like Mark McGwire, who have a readier claim on our admiration, and shoulder more naturally its weight."

Observe the "look at me!" placement of the "more naturally" -- how it's not in one of the two places you'd put more naturally it. The "(goes the rap)" also seems a little fusty.

Well, I could go on, but that's one of the things I'm criticizing Chabon for. Don't read the whole thing.

NOTE: No offense to Stan Cornyn, who wrote all those Sinatra liner notes. Only one page devoted to this master, unfortunately. Here's an excerpt, from a Nancy Sinatra album:
..A young fragile living thing, on its own in a wondrous-wicked-woundup-wasted-wild-worried-wisedup-warmbodied world. On her own. Earning her daily crepes and Cokes by singing the facts of love. Her voice tells as much as her songs. No faked up grandure, her voice is like it is: a little tired, little put down, a lot loving.

No one is born sophisticated. It's a place you have to crawl to, crawling out of hayseed country, over miles of unsanded pavement, past Trouble, past corners and forks with no auto club signs to point you, till you get there and you wake up wiser.

Indeed.

3.15.2005

Words to live by from your American Idols (2)


From that kid Anthony:

Q. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A. They would be surprised to learn that I am not fake.

Words to live by from your American Idols


Mrs. Delicious and I are watching American Idol. I'm looking up the contestants online and will report important As to the canned Qs. This one's from that guy Constantine:

Q. If you don't make it on AMERICAN IDOL, what will you do?
A. Continue to write and rock.

Local note: Getting ready for the gutter.

From My DDLA Mayoral race: Villaraigosa vs Hahn:

"Holy mother of landslides. Hahn, on the day of the election, spoke of his intention to 'bury' his opponent in the run-off. But he's very deep in the hole right now himself-- nearly 2:1 with only 12% undeclared.

Hahn knows that his only chance is to demoralize turnout, which will strengthen his absentee hand, and increase tension among the demographics against latinos. Hahn will go down burying this race in a negative onslaught, with only a 2% chance of success. Too bad for LA that he has to try."


That's great, because the one thing we need more of around here is mudslinging along racial/ethnic lines.

Villaraigosa has always struck me as someone who has political star quality -- like he's really happy to be shaking hands at the North Hollywood Red Line. You'd think this would be a common quality, but it's always surprising how many politicians seem bad in front of crowds. (Kerry, Gray Davis, H.W. Bush come to mind.)

3.10.2005

Meet the man who has the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Chair in Economics at the University of Buffalo

A choice quote:

The study found that among the 54 countries studied with pay-as-you-go social security programs, the average annual marriage rate (net-of-divorce) fell from 9.72 per 1,000 people in 1960 to 6.40 in 1990, and the average total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive years) fell from 3.82 per in 1965 to 2.07 in 1989.

(Via Talking Points.)

3.09.2005

I also hate Mahler

but I will second the anti-Bruckner sentiments here.

To be fair to Mahler, he puts me in mind of a couple of comedy writers I know who will prove to you why what they did is funny, and you agree, yet you never laugh.

Eucha-ritz?


Towards better-tasting Communion. (Via .)

Lull


Not much to say, really. I feel like anything I'd say on politics would just be a worse version of Digby. And, while I've never been particularly clever here, all my cleverness is going into this stack of paper on my desk that I keep scribbing over, retyping, reprinting, and then scribbling over. (Without ever throwing away the old copies, sad to say.)

I'm not gone for good, though, I don't think.

3.04.2005

Comedy folk as dates

I suppose I should comment onthis LA Times story:

"Like most women, I'm looking for a guy with a sense of humor. But I avoid dating comedy writers for the same reason I avoid watching network sitcoms: the laugh track. Because as annoying as it is to listen to -- imagine a guy who expects you to become one.

That's right. Go on a date with a comedy writer, and he'll make you into his personal, one-woman laugh track. While you're innocently trying to enjoy your fried calamari appetizer, your date will deliver one-liner after one-liner, in that same monotonous three-jokes-per-page sitcom rhythm you hear on 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' And you, in turn, will be required to laugh heartily at every joke."


My responses:

1. Don't date the joke guys, date the story guys. The story guys will get you invested in the date. They will raise the stakes. They may even start your story sooner -- which may not be what you want from a date, of course.

2. What did you expect? Everyone likes a joke, yet it's the comedy people who get paid to obsess about jokes. How do they do it? By disfiguring their personalities, that's how. If you dated an athlete you wouldn't be surprised that his manic specialization had made him unfit date company. We've worked at least as hard on our useless skill.

3. This was going to a point where I was going to say that I'm a little like this, but I'm different because...when I realized that no, I'm exactly like this. Except I'm also pretentious. (You'd be surprised how often that comes as a relief to people.)

4. Thank god for Mrs. Delicious.

Silly Sullivan

The Decembrist quotes Andrew Sullivan on a flat tax thusly:

"Punishing people for being successful is morally wrong and counter-productive. We should at least treat hard work neutrally, rather than punitively"

To which Schmitt replies:

"[J]ust what evidence is there of a direct correlation between "hard work" and earnings? Do we really believe that people who make $35,000 work so much less hard than people who make $200,000?"

That's a polite way of putting it. Here's my way:

1. The fucker obviously doesn't give a shit about the raising of children if he thinks it isn't hard work. And

2. I thought the fucker was Catholic. Then what the hell has he been doing in Mass, reading Entertainment Weekly? I'm no expert in Catholic social thought, but I'm pretty damn sure it doesn't say that people who don't make money haven't worked hard. Even Michael Novak, who is also a fucker, wouldn't draw that conclusion -- although I imagine he would endorse the idea that people who make a lot of money are ipso facto "successful."

But I suppose Dorothy Day was among the "decadent fifth column on the coasts."


I am sorry about the language, really I am, but nothing gets me madder than this -- the idea that the wealthy are "the most productive members of society." You hear it a lot when it comes to rightwing tax policy. It is a terrible and evil and ultimately sad way to look at life, to measure productivity, success, worth by income. It disrespects almost everyone in my family, and everyone I grew up with -- for they are, I guess, less productive than some shit from Short Hills, N.J. It goes to the rightwing desire for orders in society, for culling the herd, for separating the sheep from the goats. And I thought that was a job that the god Sullivan allegedly worships reserved to himself.

'One More Once'

I am a huge Basie fan, so this (via Teachout), is awesome.

Listening to Basie while driving your car in LA -- particularly parts of LA that were around when Basie was -- turns even your crappy Saturn into a big old Cadillac. In fact, one of my few synesthsia-type experiences Basie; it sounds like a huge midcentury car.

Also while I am being enthusastic I enjoyed some ESPNU tonight. I love college sports despite, or perhaps because, how dirty a business it is, what huge hypocrisy it inspires, how insidious it is in perverting educational institutions. I don't care. I like my fix.

Defense Procurement Follies

Somebody read this and explain why these are not the actions of an empire that's staggering around high on its own hubris.

It's not even so much the size of the budget as the priorities -- zillions on the theoretical weapons at the cost of what actual troops need right now.

Maybe it's a good time to read Gibbon.

3.01.2005

James Brown weighs in on the Lawrence Summers controversy

How often have we taken pride in our "newfangled" controversies, only to find that, once again, all academia is a footnote to James Brown? Pretty damn often, in my opinion. This Harvard kerfluffle is no exception. I'm referring, specifically, to the Godfather of Soul's landmark paper "Licking Stick -- Licking Stick (Part I)." Here he notes:

I don't profess
To be no teacher
But these are my latest outlooks
She got to get herself
Back in the mathematic books.


Indeed. When you contrast this with another image of the female

Sister out in the backyard
Doin' an outtasight dance


You can see that, once again, Brown is calling people of all genders to get on the good foot, academically speaking. Not that Brown is content to leave it at that; he closes, as he opens, with a characteristic call to action:

Mama come here quick
And bring me that licking stick.


Is it a licking stick -- or a counting stick? Is "James Brown" going to use it -- or does he want "Mama" to count for herself? Ever the provocateur, the Minister of the Super-Heavy Funk raises more questions than he answers.